Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy, one of the seven deacons; Saint Theophanes the Confessor, Bishop of Nicaea; 21st Sunday after Pentecost (Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council); (Parable of the Sower)

1. The Parable of the Sower is related in Luke 8:5-15. The reception of this parable and how it has been analyzed by biblical scholars make this parable a complex story in and of itself. However, we will remain on “good ground” if we simply “hear” the parable as interpreted by Christ for His disciples, as it has been consistently understood within the Church.

2. Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy, one of the 7 Deacons is not to be confused with St Philip one of the Twelve Apostles (November 14). This Philip was born in Palestine, was married and had children.

After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Twelve Apostles made Philip a deacon in the Church of Jerusalem. Along with the other six deacons, they appointed him to deal with the offerings of the faithful and attend to the concerns of the widowed, the orphaned and the needy.

The eldest among the seven deacons was the holy Archdeacon Stephen. When the persecution of Christians began, the Jews stoned the Protomartyr Stephen. The Apostle Philip left Jerusalem and settled in Samaria. There he successfully preached Christianity. Among the disciple’s converts was the noted magician Simon, who “after being baptized, continued with Philip.” (Acts 8:9-13)

Troparion — Tone 3

Filled with divine grace, / you served God the Word as a deacon of the Church, O Apostle Philip. / By the working of miracles and by signs from God / you enlightened the multitudes of Samaria. / O blessed one, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

At the command of an angel of the Lord, St Philip set out upon the road connecting Jerusalem with Gaza. There he met an official of the empress of Ethiopia, whom also he converted to Christianity (Acts 8:26-39).

The holy disciple Philip tirelessly preached the Word of God in many of the lands of the Near East adjoining Palestine. At Jerusalem, the Apostles made him a bishop and sent him to Tralles in Asia Minor, where he also baptized many. St Philip died in old age.

3. Saint Theophanes, Confessor and Hymnographer, Bishop of Nicea was the younger brother of the St Theodore the Branded (December 27). The brothers received an excellent education and were particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards the knowledge of God, they settled in the Lavra of St Sava. Here St Theophanes was tonsured and later became a hieromonk.

The holy brothers were famed as advocates of icon veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and went to Constantinople to denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). Afterwards, they also denounced the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilus (829-842).

The saints had to endure imprisonment, hunger, even torture. The emperor Theophilus gave orders to inscribe a phrase insulting to the glorious confessors upon their faces with red-hot needles.

Troparion — Tone 5

Having attained an angelic state, / you sounded forth as a golden trumpet of revelation / and nourished the chosen people with your words. / The singing of your hymns gladdens the Church, / for which you struggled, O Theophanes.

Therefore, they are called “Branded”. “Write whatever you wish, but at the Last Judgment you shall read your own writing,” said the agonized brothers to the emperor. They sent Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes was sent into exile.

With the restoration of Icon veneration, St Theophanes was returned from exile and consecrated Bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150 canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. He died peacefully around the year 850.

Tr by oca.org

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